Exercise and Rheumatoid Arthritis
If you’re among the approximately 1.3 million Americans who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, exercising ought to be a regular part of your routine.
Routine exercise can provide relief from the pain, stiffness, and inflammation that comes with rheumatoid arthritis. It can also improve your mood, give you more energy, boost your immune system to prevent future flare-ups, and help you avoid weakness and muscle wasting.
Exercise is essential for people with rheumatoid arthritis, but it’s important to choose the right type of exercise if you want to see the greatest benefits. Some forms of physical activity are definitely better than others when you’re dealing with a chronic illness.
If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to exercising with rheumatoid arthritis, you might want to consider one of these four forms of exercise.
Four Best Forms of Exercise for People with Rheumatoid Arthritis
#1. Swimming and Water Exercise
If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, it’s important for you to find a form of cardiovascular exercise that you enjoy.
Due to an increase in inflammation throughout the body, people with rheumatoid arthritis face a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Because of this, keeping your heart in good shape is crucial.
Swimming and water aerobics are great forms of low-impact cardiovascular exercise. They’ll allow you to get your heart rate up without putting extra pressure on your joints.
Since it’s so much denser than air, the water also provides lots of resistance, so you can strengthen your muscles while also breaking a sweat.
Exercising in warm water has also been shown to be more effective than other forms of exercise for improving mood and general well-being in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
If swimming isn’t for you, you might want to consider cycling as your primary form a cardiovascular exercise.
Cycling is easy on your joints and is easily scalable, meaning you can increase or lower the intensity to fit your fitness level.
In addition to being great for your heart, cycling also helps you increase your leg and core strength.
Try a cycling class at your local gym, go for a bike ride through the neighborhood or on a nearby trail, or even just set up a stationary bike to use at your house.
Weight-bearing exercises like walking are great for people with rheumatoid arthritis, who also face a greater risk of developing bone-thinning conditions like osteoporosis. Weight-bearing exercises increase bone density to decrease your chance of developing osteoporosis.
Walking is also another good form of cardiovascular exercise, and it’s totally free! It’s the perfect option for people who don’t want to go to the gym but still want the benefits of regular exercise.
Walking isn’t just good for the body, though. It also works wonders for your mental health. In fact, walking for just thirty minutes a day has been proven to provide a mood boost and help you have a more positive attitude.
#4. Resistance Training
In addition to cardiovascular exercise, it’s also important to prioritize resistance training to help offset the muscle weakness that often accompanies rheumatoid arthritis.
Strengthening your muscles can also help relieve joint pain by taking some pressure off them.
You can resistance train with weights, resistance bands, or even just your own bodyweight.
If you’re new to resistance training, you may want to work with a personal trainer or physical therapist to learn proper technique, which will help you avoid injuries and get the most out of your workouts.
Tips for Exercising with Rheumatoid Arthritis
Starting a new exercise routine can be daunting, especially when you’re struggling with a condition like rheumatoid arthritis. Keeping these tips in mind can ease your anxiety and help you stay safe:
- Wear sleeve to protect your knees and elbows
- Break your workout up into 10-minute segments so that it’s more manageable
- Listen to your body and take breaks as needed
- Switch things up on a regular basis so you don’t get bored
The Bottom Line
Exercise is a must for people with rheumatoid arthritis, but it definitely doesn’t have to be a chore. Give these four forms of a exercise a try today and you’ll soon find an option that you genuinely enjoy.